A PLN is someone’s Personal Learning Network. It is an amalgamation of people that one can use to exchange information and ideas with, and takes place largely online. I use my PLN to help connect with other future educators, or those who are already in the field of education that I feel can share valuable information about new trends in education, ideas on lesson plans, or anything else related to this area. The tools I use in my PLN are Twitter, Diigo, and the digital discussion forum Educators PLN. Through these I have a vast supply of resources available at my fingertips on almost any topic I can think of, and also have the possibility of meeting other educators with whom I may collaborate on projects. It also allows me to share a website or other form of digital information to a large audience with a single post. This makes the process of sending out information very easy and simple to accomplish with little effort.
My experience with Twitter has been a positive one. I am currently following the educational newspaper, Education Week, as well as a couple of sites dedicated to global education and information regarding the TESOL certificate. I am also following a Twitter account dedicated to sharing resources for history teachers and one that updates me on the newest TEDTalks, which are always full of interesting and informative presentations on a variety of topics. I recently observed an #edchat discussion on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 9am. The topic of the discussion surrounded the idea of what makes a good Administrator and how to accomplish such a position. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the discussion first started, but the responses started flooding in almost immediately. At first it was a little overwhelming, but I was quickly able to discover which tweet was in reply to someone else, which tweet was part of the discussion in general, and which tweets acted as questions to guide the chat in more specific directions. There were a few running themes in the responses of the educators participating. These included having Admins that were active in the classrooms, encouraged risk taking and were open for discussion, and treated teachers, students, and parents alike with equal levels of respect. Many thought that Admins should lead by example, and use more personal involvement in the school to foster personal learning and a more homogeneous school environment for faculty and students alike. It was interesting to see the different perspectives on the topic and I appreciated the encouraging atmosphere when disagreements arose. I am glad these debates take place, and it really proves to me how great of a tool Twitter can be in a professional atmosphere and how vast the network of educators really is.
Diigo has been another great tool in my PLN. Again, it allows me to follow accounts dedicated to education as a whole, as well as future and current educators. Currently I am following educators from different parts of the country who teach subjects in science, English, history and range from primary to secondary grade levels. Diigo also allows me to bookmark websites that I think are interesting or helpful. For my PLN, I recently bookmarked a blog for history teachers because I found it to be well written and was genuinely interested in the information as this is one of my favorite subjects. I also bookmarked a website directly related to PLNs that gave tips on taking full advantage of the networking sites available and how to become better connected. I also bookmarked a website giving information on the TEFL certificate and finding jobs abroad because this is something that I have recently become very interested in obtaining.
I joined the digital discussion forum, Educators PLN. It is a great website full of videos, articles, and blog posts that members can browse and share or add their own input. I read the article “Cellphones are a Distraction,” by Thomas Whitby. It was an interesting new take the cellphone in classrooms debate in which he stated that instead of fighting technology, teachers should embrace the fact that most students have valuable learning tools in their pockets and backpacks. He suggests that teachers should not be afraid to give up a little control of the classroom and show students how to properly use their smartphones in an educational format for research and communication. I thought he made some good points, but there will always be an issue with cellphone use in the classroom and I don’t see things making a major change anytime soon.